Out of Covid chaos comes opportunity

Ideas

Out of Covid chaos comes opportunity

Now is the time for stakeholders to unite in support of businesses, upskill employees and include the unemployed

Patrick Buthelezi

In 2020, the economy fell into a sharp recession, leading to huge loss of income for households and businesses. Unfortunately, many lives have been lost, nearly 90,000 cumulatively since the pandemic started. A year on, the mood is improving, albeit not in a straight line, as demonstrated by diverging confidence levels. In the recent Cape Town CCID’s State of Cape Town Central City Report 2020 — A Year in Review, we pointed out that it’ll take collaboration and creativity to equip business owners with the support, skills and will to weather the remaining storm.

Importantly, though, the South African economy is expected to exit the recession, supported by high terms of trade (though this may have peaked), accommodative monetary policy, a buoyant global economy and low base effect. However, the economy is expected to return to the pre-pandemic level in 2022. Even so, the recovery is good news for the business sector and households. Recently, the daily rates of infections plunged, officially marking the end of the third wave, and this paved the way for the Covid-19 command team to relax restrictions to alert level 1. Covid-19 had devastating effects on society and businesses, and the impact will be long-lasting.

In its April 2020 Business Impact Survey, Stats SA found that 85.4% of participating businesses experienced lower turnovers, with 46.4% indicating temporary closure or suspended trading activity. Reasons for this ranged from  loss of skilled personnel to Covid-19 and supply chain disruptions to reduced retail hours (due to curfew) and a very different operating environment. Admittedly, lockdown restrictions have been less strict compared with the first hard lockdown in March 2020...

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